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What is Persuasive Advertising?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Persuasive advertising is a component in an overall advertising strategy that seeks to entice consumers into purchasing specific goods or services, often by appealing to their emotions and general sensibilities. This particular advertising strategy is different from informative advertising, which essentially provides the customer with hard data about the nature and function of the product. With persuasive advertising, the assumption is that the consumer already understands the basic nature of the product, but needs to be convinced of the desirability and the benefits that set a particular product apart from the competition.

One of the more effective approaches to persuasive advertising is to focus on specific benefits of the product. While those same benefits may also be found with competing products, the idea is to convey that a given product provides that benefit in a way that is hard to find elsewhere. For example, advertising for a given shampoo may note that the product contains ingredients designed to nourish dry hair, leaving the hair shiny and manageable. Even though other products contain similar ingredients, this particular shampoo gains a reputation for being ideal for people with hair that is dry and brittle, and thus attracts a specific sector of consumers.

Another approach to persuasive advertising is to convey the perception that using a given product will help an individual be more successful with some area of his or her life. A brand of mouthwash may use media advertising to convey the message that using the product assures the breath is fresh for a longer period of time, and therefore helps to enhance the confidence of the user when interacting with other people. This same general approach is used with perfumes and colognes, where the advertising creates the perception that anyone who uses the product will be more attractive and socially successful.

It is important to note that persuasive advertising does not actually state that if the consumer uses a given product, the effect illustrated in the advertising will automatically take place. The idea is to convey the perception that there is a good chance that the consumer will experience some type of benefit that is similar to what is portrayed in the print ad or the television commercial. In fact, some examples of persuasive advertising go as far as to include a disclaimer that the situation displayed in the advertising is only an example, and not the only possible outcome. This approach is often used in advertising for legal firms, in that the disclaimer notes that the advertising does not imply that the services provided by the firm are necessarily superior to those provided by other legal firms.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By DentalFloss — On Jan 17, 2011

These techniques do not always improve advertising effectiveness. In fact, I think many people, myself included, are less likely to buy a product if it is clear that they are being especially persuasive.

By afterall — On Jan 14, 2011

There are many persuasive techniques in advertising. These include fantasy- the idea that your life will somehow improve by using it-, nostalgia, and of course the bandwagon idea that everyone else is using it and you should not let yourself get left behind. Similarly, there has also been an increase in ads which use the opposite idea, that your status will be higher than others because you can be one of the "first" to use a certain product, making you stand out ahead of others.

By widget2010 — On Jan 12, 2011

Most modern advertisements are almost entirely persuasive. This includes both subliminal advertising and more obvious forms of persuasion. For example, most food advertisements try to sound informational, but use many persuasive words and images. A lot of kids' product ads are subliminal also.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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